by Jeff Mackler, published on Socialist Action, October 6, 2020
A brief update: Trump did indeed contract Covid-19. He was diagnosed a few days after the debate. When it was decided to have a virtual debate on October 15 rather than place him in the same room for safety reasons, he refused to participate. Maybe he’ll change his mind but as of today (10/10) that is where it stands. Covid- Yes, Debate- No [jb]
Joseph Biden’s Democrats have the edge on Donald Trump’s Republicans with regard to billionaire backing, with Biden leading, according to Forbes magazine, by 131-93. This simple fact should inform serious social justice activists or even newcomers to capitalist electoral politics that something is amiss with the system itself. Leaving aside the millions routinely disenfranchised by racist voter suppression, that working people are allowed every four years to cast their vote for one of the twin parties of racist warmongering capitalism tells us that the ruling rich have little to fear. Indeed, if our future depends on a Biden or a Trump to save humanity from the multiple catastrophic crises that their system has created, we are in deep trouble. On the other hand, if the future depends on the forthright entrance of the masses – center stage – we have a world to win. That’s the only real concern of the ruling class.
The ugly Sept. 29 Biden-Trump slugfest shocked even the most cynical observers. But Trump’s disgusting and ceaseless interruptions and his torrent of lies and personal insults notwithstanding, neither he nor Biden proved capable of seriously addressing any of the critical issues facing working people today. Capitalism’s rush to global warming-induced oblivion, its endless imperialist wars that slaughter millions and reduce nations to starvation and poverty, its bi-partisan incapacity to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic that has taken the lives of 210,000 in the U.S. alone, went unmentioned. Its economic meltdown that has reduced countless millions to economic destitution, massive unemployment, loss of health care and to a daily life subjected to ingrained racist brutality and sexist and LGBTQI+ discrimination, were essentially denied or addressed with blame-placing retorts or vacuous homilies.
One or two line pre-planned jibes saying nothing and aimed at scoring cheap debater’s points for the moment sufficed for both. Shakespeare said it well four centuries ago, “It was a tale told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing!” Nothing, that is, but hate, bluster and platitudes uttered by strutting and poorly coached accidental bit players set on a world stage for ninety minutes and pretending relevancy at a time when the world faces unprecedented crises, solutions to which their bloody interests are incapable of even the dimmest contemplation.
Trump red-baited Biden for Bernie’s “socialism,” with Biden running for the hills proclaiming “I beat Bernie.” Referring to his party’s platform, devoid of any mention of Sanders rhetoric, Biden cried out, “I am the Democratic Party.” Trump grinned with delight and said, “You just lost the left.”
To expect anything of substance from these crude representatives of the billionaire elite is to live in a dream world of illusion based on a “reality” created by their corporate media machines, wherein we are daily advised via multi-million dollar TV bursts to choose between the good billionaires and the bad billionaires, between “lesser” evils and the “greater” evils, between overt racists and covert racists, between the abject supporters and promoters of the military-industrial and prison-industrial complexes and the abject supporters and promoters of the military-industrial and prison-industrial complexes.
By prior agreement both “debaters” agreed to leave out the life-or-death issues of global warming, military spending, U.S. imperialism’s ever-expanding wars of intervention and domination, and massive bi-partisan tax cuts for the rich, accompanied by trillion dollar corporate bailouts. Why discuss these when there is total agreement?
Fox News moderator Chris Wallace couldn’t resist throwing in a question to Biden as to why he had not called on Portland’s mayor and Oregon’s governor to bring in federal troops to crush “violent protestors.” Neither candidate thought to respond that the base sources of violence and repression in capitalist society are the racist and institutionalized powers of the police, ICE, Homeland Security, the FBI and associated groups whose function is to defend and maintain the repressive capitalist status quo.
Biden, who referred to police violence as the product of “a few bad apples,” ignored his own role in overseeing legislation that filled the nation’s increasingly privatized, for-profit prisons to unprecedented heights with millions of poor victims of social injustice jailed by the racist “criminal justice system” and assigned to work at slave wages for Fortune 500 corporations. Biden’s boss, Barack Obama, “The Great Deporter,” similarly filled his U.S. detention centers to the brim while expelling a record-setting three million immigrants.
Trump merely followed in Biden’s footsteps and racist past, while presenting himself as “the best president for Black people since Abraham Lincoln”! Wallace queried these hate-filled buffoon candidates of the ruling rich as to whether they saw the coming “economic upswing” as taking the graphic form of a “V” or a “K”-shaped recovery, that is, a quick recovery or a divergent economy in which the rich benefit while the suffering of workers increases.
Neither candidate proved capable of uttering a word about the 42 million who have lost their jobs, many permanently, or the rigged unemployment statistics that put the real number of eligible workers without jobs at 37 percent. Neither could note that a combination of the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury effectively pumped into the coffers of the corporate elite some $6 trillion, an amount roughly equal to the total loss in the nation’s GDP.
Overt and covert bigots
The overt bigot Trump urged his Proud Boy racist followers to “Stand back and stand by,” until he felt the need to call in federal troops to crush the expected and unprecedented mass mobilizations that will inevitably follow should he declare himself president on Election Day after refusing to count tens of millions of mail-in and absentee ballots. Biden, a historic defender of the anti-democratic and racist Electoral College system, was clever enough to designate the Proud Boys as racist, but made no mention of how he would respond should Trump declare his personal dictatorship on November 3, presumably to be backed by a future vote of his Supreme Court. The sheer notion that nine ruling class-appointed figures can or should decide the fate of 340 million working people has been increasingly called into question.
No doubt growing elements of the billionaire elite, accustomed to financing one or another or both of capitalism’s corporate parties, are today considering taking their distance from Trump’s increasingly inflammatory declarations and actions. Rarely a week passes when one or another Republican fund-raising Political Action Committee announces support for Biden’s campaign.
A fleet of generals, including Trump’s own Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley as well as his Defense Secretary, Mark Esper have taken their distance from Trump’s threat to call in federal troops to crush anti-racist and Black Lives Matter protestors should they challenge any decision wherein he rejects a peaceful transition after losing the election.
Trump’s Labor Day weekend statement similarly enraged Pentagon tops who he charged with advocating war “so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else [would] stay happy.” Posing himself as a “peace candidate,” indeed one who should win the Nobel Peace Prize, the “moron” Trump – the designation first coined by his former, now resigned Secretary of State and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson – calculated that he might win a few more votes from the unwary, while assuming that his friends at the war industries would understand that his remarks were nothing more than campaign rhetoric.
Trump’s Defense Secretary Esper hails from the Raytheon Corporation, a central Pentagon contractor. Esper’s acting Defense Secretary predecessor hails from the Boeing Corporation while Trump’s Secretary of the Army came from Lockheed Martin. Trump famously took out a full-page ad in the New York Times in the run-up to the 2016 elections listing a host of retired generals as his supporters and bragging that he had more support in the military than his rival Hillary Clinton.
Nearly four years later, many of these generals have disappeared from Trump’s inner circles by virtue of Trump’s boot or by their own public denunciation. Either way, in the “civilized” and democratic constitutionally-based society that all generals pretend to uphold, it’s not good politics to threaten working people with concerted military force and violence, “at least for now,” they usually add. “At least for now!”
The moron Trump, posturing as virtually immune from COVID-19, not to mention minimizing its deadly impact on millions, couldn’t resist denigrating Biden during the debate for regularly wearing a mask. The next day, a maskless Trump campaigned in several cities. Earlier in the week – and prior to Tuesday’s debate – TV cameras focused on Trump’s crowded White House Rose Garden ceremony, where he announced his Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. Pictures of Trump’s widely photographed outdoor ceremony, attended by 200 obsequious flatterers, revealed that the vast majority were not wearing masks or following social distancing guidelines. Invitees were seated in closely packed rows of chairs. The event is now thought to be a super-spreader, where at least eight attendees were infected.
Meanwhile, assuming that Trump is available, the next scheduled debate on Oct.15 is expected to include provisions to thwart interruptions, including cutting off the microphones of rule violators. Regardless, rounds two and three of the Trump-Biden debates can only be expected to be characterized by more of the same mindless bluster and bluff as neither candidate of the ruling rich holds any solutions to the daily horrors their decaying and rapacious system inflicts on working people.
*Featured Image: Donald Trump and Joe Biden during the debate on September 29, 2020. (Photo: Jim Watson/AFP)
Jeff Mackler is the national secretary of Socialist Action. He is also Socialist Action’s candidate for U.S. President in the 2020 elections and he was the Socialist Action candidate for President in 2016. Mackler founded Northern California Climate Mobilization, is a longtime teacher and union activist with the American Federation of Teachers in Hayward, California and is director of theMobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal.